Sui Gaw (水餃)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Dried sole is a crucial ingredient in sui gaw. It's grilled or roasted till dry and crisp, then pounded so that it's not too small (you wouldn't be able to taste it) nor too big (would be gritty). Added to the filling, dried sole gives sui gaw a unique toasty flavour. And if the stock is simmered with a few chunks of the dried fish, that's even better.

Teochew Ngoh Hiang

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

I can never get enough of ngoh hiang, the deep-fried meat rolls that are full of the fragrance of five-spice powder and yam, the sweetness of prawns and pork, and the crunch of water chestnuts. The salty beancurd skin wrapped around the filling adds to the aroma and, more importantly, it stops moisture from escaping, keeping the meat roll moist and juicy. Mmmmm . . . .

What makes Teochew ngoh hiang Teochew? It's the yam, which Hokkien ngoh hiang doesn't have. Of course, the Teochew version is far superior, in my totally unbiased, impartial opinion.

Fried Wontons

Monday, 17 October 2011

Fried wontons are different from wontons in soup, apart from the fact that they're fried.

The filling for boiled wontons should have dried sole (大地鱼, aka 铁脯). The fish is toasted till brown, crisp and fragrant, then chopped into little bits. If it's not available, deep-fried shallots are a good substitute. With either of these ingredients in the filling, wontons cooked in soup would have a rich, intense aroma they wouldn't have otherwise. In Hong Kong, the motherland of Wonton Soup, the stock used is made with dried sole, amongst other things.

Babi Masak Assam

Friday, 23 September 2011

Compared to Shermay Lee, who supposedly began learning Peranakan cuisine when she was 5 years old, Wee Eng Hwa was a very late starter. She began learning Nyonya cookery at the relatively ancient age of 47. Fortunately, she had two advantages over the self-proclaimed culinary child prodigy. One, she could see what was in the wok without standing on a chair. Two, her sifu has been guiding her for some 20 years. Shermay's, even if you believe her marketing spin, kicked the bucket after lesson one.

Not LKY's Babi Pongteh

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Cast your mind back, all the way back to when you were 5 years old. Do you remember anything much?

Would you believe a 5-year-old child is capable of learning how to cook, and remembers what she's learnt when she's a 28-year-old adult? Would you believe a 5-year-old can be instilled with a passion for cooking?

Minced Pork Stir-Fry with Ketchup & Fermented Black Beans

Friday, 19 August 2011

Minced pork stir-fried with fermented black beans is one of the standard items served at places that sell Teochew porridge. It's different from other fbb-based recipes because it's got a good amount of tomato ketchup, a decidedly non-Teochew ingredient which, I suspect, my cousins in China don't use. But ketchup actually goes well with fbb's salty fragrance, adding a distinct dimension not found in fbb dishes that are more traditional.

Pork Stir-Fry with Sesame Oil

Sunday, 7 August 2011

I stir-fry pork with sesame oil; so did my mother, my mother's mother, my mother's mother's mother . . . . I'm guessing that since sesame oil was invented discovered in China, which was supposedly some 2,300 years ago during the Three Kingdoms period, Chinese have been cooking pork in it one way or another. 

The version I make is with garlic, ginger, light soya sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine and salt. I've done it so many times I can practically do it with my eyes closed.

Sambal Timun

Friday, 17 June 2011

LinkI like Mrs Wee Kim's sambal timun recipe in Cooking for the President. The magic of the Spicy Pork Cucumber Salad is in the dressing – isn't it always, with salads?

Opposites attract, so bland, tasteless timun (cucumber) and spicy, hot sambal (chilli paste) are the proverbial match made in Nyonya heaven. And when the matchmaker is Mrs Wee, you can be assured it's a particularly blissful match.

Besides the usual red chillies and belachan, the ex-First Lady also uses pounded kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced bungah kantan (torch ginger bud) and julienned calamansi lime peel. That's a lot of intense flavours already but there's more.

Marmite Ribs

Friday, 20 May 2011


I'd intended to buy a jar of Marmite to make Marmite Pork Ribs only after I finished some of the sauces and whatnots (which were threatening to spill out of the kitchen into the living room). But my self-discipline crumbled when I saw what a great sense of humour the makers of Marmite have, as the commercial shows.

Love it or hate it? I'd never had Marmite before, and I couldn't wait to find out. dldl dldld dldl ldl dldld

Steamed Garlic Pork Ribs

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Let's see . . . I've done pork ribs with orange, coffee, red yeast wine dregs, fermented black beans, teriyaki sauce, and pickled plums. That's quite a lot already but here's one more: Steamed Garlic Pork Ribs. Yup, tonnes and tonnes of garlic; heaps of garlic; garlic galore!

Compared to the other recipes, steamed garlic pork ribs is really simple, using garlic as its flavouring agent.

Hmm, a bit too simple, perhaps?

Nope, don't worry. As Leonardo da Vinci said, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Don't underestimate the plant that sprouted from Satan's left foot as he was evicted by his landlord.

Steamed Pork Ribs with Pickled Plums

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Ribs again, after the last post on coffee pork ribs? Well, that's all I have in the fridge.

The last time I shopped was more than a week ago, before Chinese New Year. I tried to stock up last Sunday but there wasn't anything fresh at all. The market and supermart were all clearing their leftovers from before the holidays. I'm guessing they'd be clearing their old stocks till this weekend, so I'm following suit. No one's fobbing off stale stuff on me!

After feasting on "heaty" goodies like steamboat and bak kwa, it's time to rebalance the body by eating more "cooling" stuff like fruits and vegetables. And for meat devotees who must eat an animal part or two everyday, pork ribs steamed with pickled plums is a good option. According to traditional Chinese medicine principles, frying or roasting meat makes it "heaty" but steaming doesn't. And it's even better if the steamed meat is paired with pickled plums, which is a strong "cooling agent".

Coffee Pork Ribs

Monday, 7 February 2011

I'm not a coffee addict. I have only seven cups a day . . . .

Just kidding, folks. I have three, max; most days I have two. I always have one first thing in the morning, sometimes with a couple of cream crackers for dunking. On days when I'm a good girl, that's the only coffee I'd have.

My favourite coffees are macchiato (espresso with a dollop of steamed milk) and romano (espresso with lemon zest) when I want 'proper' coffee. I also like latte, for washing down cookies or cake, but that's more like coffee-flavoured milk rather than coffee. Whatever coffee it is, it's always without sugar.

I love food that's slightly bitter, from bitter gourd to bitter chocolate, and anything made with coffee such as coffee cheesecake and coffee candy. Pork ribs deep-fried and coated with coffee? Yeah, baby, yeah!

Orange Glazed Ribs

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Mandarin oranges are a symbol of good luck. Come Chinese New Year, many homes are decorated with mandarin orange plants decked out with lucky ornaments. And crawling from house to house collecting ang baos wouldn't be possible without a pair of orange mandarins.

Given mandarin oranges' importance to Chinese traditions, it's a shame these good luck fruits aren't used in any popular CNY recipe. You know, like pineapples are in pineapple tarts.

Brain Food – For the Brave

Monday, 22 November 2010

Pig brains used to be a popular food for Chinese. The practice has died out more or less, but I thought it would be nice to have a record of how traditional Double-Boiled Pig Brain Soup is made. And also Pig Brain Omelette, which is the photo on the left. Doesn't look too bad, does it? The other photos, however, are a bit gruesome, to be honest. So, if you're squeamish, you should not read this post. Did you get that? Repeat:

GO AWAY IF YOU'RE SQUEAMISH!

This post is for those who are brave, or those who have a bit of Hannibal in them. If you think you're one of them, please continue reading. Or come back later if you just ate.

Minced Pork & Olive Vegetables Stir-Fry

Sunday, 17 October 2010

If you're wondering what on earth "olive vegetables" are, it's olives and salted mustard greens cooked in vegetable oil till everything is a dark green mush. And what a marvelous mush it is!

The strong flavours from the olives and mustard greens meld together and mellow during the long hours of cooking, creating something that tastes like olives, but better. It's more complex, more nuanced, rounder, smoother . . . an absolute delight with plain rice porridge, straight out of the bottle. But I would say that, wouldn't I? I'm Teochew and "olive vegetables", aka 乌橄榄菜, is a Teochew specialty. It's one of our many ways of preserving vegetables.

Honestly though, I swear I'm not biased. Why would anyone eat an oily, inky black mush – since the Sung dynasty, apparently – unless it tastes really good?

Pork Maw Soup

Sunday, 26 September 2010



There're two schools of thought when it comes to cleaning the pig's stomach. You could use an acidic cleaning agent, such as lemon, lime, vinegar or even coke. This is the quicker and easier method, and one that my mother always sniffed at because the acid is usually too strong. It removes not only the yucky smell but also the good, making the maw rather tasteless. She always used the physical method which is somewhat like a . . . sort of facial, with exfoliation and a peel-off mask!

Noodles with Red Wine Dregs (红糟面线)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

A few weeks ago, I made some chicken with red wine dregs (红糟鸡). As I was writing about how effective red yeast rice extract was in lowering cholesterol, I looked at the photos I had taken. And I started to get worried. The red yeast stuff looked so . . . red!

Maybe there's something wrong with photos?


I went to the fridge and looked at the real wine dregs. Nope, there was nothing wrong with the photos. The dregs were really that shade of fire engine red. I rubbed my tummy, feeling rather uneasy.

Yikes! It must be Sudan Red!

Sudan Red, a carcinogenic industrial chemical dye, is found in a lot of red colored food products.

Remember the salted eggs recall a few years back?

Pork Belly Braised with Red Fermented Beancurd

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

If you like strong flavours, you'd like the Hakka way of cooking pork belly.

The fatty cut is marinated with red fermented beancurd and Shaoxing wine, deep-fried, then braised in the marinade along with fried ginger, shallots and ginger and wood ear fungus.

Don't forget to cook more rice when you make this Hakka dish!

Hakka Yong Tau Foo

Sunday, 11 July 2010

What makes Hakka yong tau foo Hakka?

It's the pork. Hakka yong tau foo is always made with minced pork, not fish.

It's also the salted fish, added to give the minced pork a salty fragrance.

Yong tau foo may be cooked in the broth, or deep-fried or pan-fried.

YTF may be served in a broth, or drizzled with chilli sauce and sweet sauce. A gravy made with oyster sauce and a good, strong stock is a good option too.

Eaten with rice or noodles, YTF can be a complete meal. Of course, it can still be a complete meal sans carb.

I love YTF very much whether it's made with pork or fish. I don't mind if it sits in a broth, sauce or gravy. I like it best with bee hoon but don't mind rice or other types of noodle. Anything would do so long as the YTF isn't factory made.

Teriyaki Ribs

Thursday, 1 July 2010


A man and woman got into a lift together. She greeted him by saying, "T-G-I-F."

He smiled at her and replied, "S-H-I-T."

She looked at him, puzzled, and said again, "T-G-I-F."

He acknowledged her remark again by answering, "S-H-I-T."

The woman was trying to be friendly, so she smiled her biggest smile and repeated, as sweetly as possible, "T-G-I-F."

The man smiled back at her and once again replied with a quizzical expression, "S-H-I-T."

The woman finally said, 'T-G-I-F – thank God it's Friday, get it?"